Why the sorry state of Philippine fisheries and fisherfolk | Inquirer Opinion

Why the sorry state of Philippine fisheries and fisherfolk

/ 05:00 PM May 23, 2024

As years go by, the Philippine marine capture fisheries and fisherfolk continue to be in a sorry state. This is based on the salient features of the United States, China, and the Philippines which represent the capitalist, communist, and developing countries, respectively.

The US leads in sustainable fisheries development being the least overfished country in the world. It has a marine fish catch between 4.9 to 5.1 million tons and a population of 333 million with a poverty incidence of 11.5 percent. Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is 11.35 million square kilometers. It has two strong major parties and the goal of supporting the individuals is paramount. It is recognized as a superpower.

China’s total allowable catch, meanwhile, has been reduced to 9.5 million tons based on its maximum sustainable yield (MSY) at 10 million tons, while the number of fishing vessels has also been reduced. It has a population of 1.4 billion with a poverty incidence of 1.7 percent. Its EEZ is less than the Philippines’ two million sq km. It has a very strong major party keeping China united as a nation and the people with collective goals. It is recognized as a superpower.

The Philippines has a five-year development plan launched in 2022 covering sectors like fisheries. It is the most overfished in Southeast Asia since there is no smart plan intended to reverse the trend of declining catch. In 2010, it attained the highest catch at 2.426 million metric tons which is higher than the estimated MSY; the catch declined to 1.7 million MT in 2023 or a drop of 30 percent. The 115 million people in 300,000 sq km land area makes its population density one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The lack of alternative livelihood in coastal fishing communities creates heavy fishing pressure on the resources leading to overfishing which resulted in fisherfolk poverty incidence much higher than the 18.1 percent at the national level.


Its form of government is similar to that of the US. But the two-party system in the 1960s, when the country was next to Japan in economic development, was transformed after the Cory Aquino administration into a multiparty system under a relatively weak government ruled by political dynasties that perpetuate political patronage and divide the Filipino people. This is the very reason why the government-led fisheries management efforts in open access resources that require collective action have not been successful.

Edmundo Enderez,
[email protected]

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